How many times have you watched your favorite team in a mid-game slump, only to yell at the screen “coach really needs to get a tech right now! Pump some life back into this team!”?
Well, that is exactly what Spurs fans thought about their team on Saturday night, and it’s exactly what head coach Gregg Popovich did.
With 9:37 left in the third quarter and the Spurs trailing 77-64, Popovich had had enough. Upset with a call, he voiced his displeasure to the refs. Apparently, he said the magic words because he was handed two technical fouls on the spot and was promptly ejected.
Damian Lillard hit two technical free throws to makes it a 15-point game, but the Blazers' good feelings were ripped away shortly thereafter.
Popovich walked out of the tunnel to the roar of the Spurs faithful showing their approval. There was energy in the stadium, and energy back in the Spurs lineup. With newfound life, the Spurs went on a 30-11 run to end the quarter and take the six-point lead into the fourth.
San Antonio only built on the lead from there, and it looked like it was going to be another big lead blown by the Blazers. But this is not how this one ended.
The Blazers showed poise, they showed character, and with their backs against the wall they were able to claw back and counter. Portland ended the game on a 17-6 run of its own, grabbing the lead back from the Spurs and the win with it.
The Blazers came out victorious, but they can still take a few notes from Pop and Co.
Sometimes it’s beneficial to shake it up. To do the unconventional in an attempt to ignite a fire. When Popovich earned the ejection, the Spurs regained their focus. Tim Duncan and Becky Hammon took the reigns and guided the ship and it almost worked.
However, the Blazers were ready for the challenge. Finishing strong has been hard for the Blazers early this season, but they were able to put the pieces together against the Spurs.
The lesson here is - next time you are watching the Blazers and think Stotts should take one for the team… you might get what you wished for. On Saturday, the Blazers saw just how effective that strategy can be.